A HEALTH watchdog has warned the adult social care market is approaching a ‘tipping point’ – with some elderly people and dementia patients not getting the help they need.
The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has highlighted the fragility of the adult social care sector due to threefold pressures of escalating demand, access and cost.
It said the number of available nursing home beds has stalled, despite rising demand and squeezed local authority budgets are putting a strain on care – with 81 per cent – of councils spending less on adult social care in the past five years.
Data provided by the CQC found CQC data shows that a five-year period of steady increase in the number of nursing home beds – going from 205,000 beds in 2009 to 224,000 beds inMarch 2015 – has now stalled, with numbers remaining static since that time.
Jeremy Hughes, chief executive of Alzheimer’s Society, said: “This is the second warning in less than a month that social care is in dire straits.
The chief executive of the CQC said he has no doubt the numbers needing help will increase
“Each successive report echoes what we hear from people with dementia and their families – from the devoted husband who must choose between having a hot meal and paying his wife’s care home top-up fees, to the 94-year old grandmother in hospital with infections due to poor personal care.
“With the NHS rising to the top of voters’ priorities, the knock-on effect from an underfunded social care system is clear.
“The NHS and social care go hand-in-hand – we cannot fix one if the other remains broken.
“Social care urgently needs a solid financial grounding before this entire house of cards falls.”
Changes in mood and personality – If you notice a loved one become easily upset, confused, depressed or anxious they could be suffering from Alzheimer’s so talk to them and book an appointment with the doctor
Experts said the adult social care market might be approaching a ‘tipping point’
The number of older people receiving local authority-funded social care fell 26 per cent from more than 1.1 million in 2009 to around 850,000 in 2013/14.
Katherine Murphy, Chief Executive of The Patients Association said: “We welcome the annual State of Care report as it is a crucial benchmark in the quality of care people are receiving.
“However, its findings are once again sobering.
“Whilst there are nuggets of positive examples of Trusts successfully swimming against the tide, fundamentally, the tide has turned and the pressures are becoming so great that the health and social care sector is struggling to meet demand whilst delivering excellent quality care.
“The combination of a growing, ageing population, more people with long-term conditions and a challenging financial climate means increased need but reduced access.
“The result is that some people are not getting the help they need – which in turn creates problems in other parts of the health and care system, such as overstretched A&E departments or delays in people leaving hospital.
“While there are no easy answers or quick fixes, what distinguishes many of the good and outstanding services is the way they work with others – hospitals working with GPs; GPs working with social care and all providers working with people who use services.
“Unless the health and social care system finds a better way to work together, I have no doubt that next year there will be more people whose needs aren’t meet, less improvement and more deterioration.”